The second time around, it felt just as good -- maybe better.
No longer the plucky underdog program trying to fight past established powers to get to the top, the Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey team is starting to become a dynasty.
CNS took a big step toward that moniker last Wednesday night at Bragman Stadium when it beat Rome Free Academy, 2-1, for its second consecutive Section III Class A championship.
In doing so, the Northstars avenged a 1-0 overtime defeat to those same Black Knights 12 days earlier -- which remains the lone blemish on the CNS season.
Having much of his team back from its title run in '05, head coach Pat Kennedy knew his players could handle the immense pressure of a title game. And if any extra motivation was needed, the defeat at RFA provided it.
This final went back and forth, each team spending long periods of time in each other's end and earning plenty of good scoring chances, before Meghan Kinne scored with 9:05 left in regulation to put CNS ahead for good.
Initially, the Northstars planned to stage one of its trademark outs, going all-out on the Black Knights' net in the early stages and, just 1:38 into the game, drawing a penalty stroke.
Lucia Meola, the team's tough-minded defender and keystone on penalty corners, took the shot -- and easily beat RFA goalie Autumn Campau.
Up 1-0, the Northstars camped in the Black Knights' end for much of the first half, with a string of shots and unending pressure. However, Campau and her fellow RFA defenders handled it all, keeping the margin at a single goal as it went to the break.
Having absorbed CNS's best flurry, the Black Knights produced one of its own. It culminated in a frantic sequence midway through the second half where RFA had five penalty corners in a row.